D22. Guana River Wildlife Management Area
SiteID: E22 (E16 old)
County: St. Johns
Nearest City: St. Augustine
Phone Number: 352-732-1225
Amenities: Restrooms, Entrance fee required, Seasonal hunting, Birding by car, Birding by boat, Birding by foot/hiking, Birding by bicycle, Best time of day: All day, Recommended length of visit: all day, Horseback riding br>
Habitats: Pines, River/Stream/Spring/Canal, Lake/Pond/Impoundment, Scrub, Hardwoods/Mixed Forest, Salt Marsh, Beach/Dune
Guana River Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is an excellent birding destination. More rustic and wild than its neighbor to the south, it offers 15 miles of hiking trails through flatwoods, oak hammocks, scrub, freshwater wetlands and brackish marshes. Two viewing towers, one on Capo Creek and one on Lake Ponte Vedra, give good vantages of duck populations, for which the area is known, as well as egrets and herons. In winter, Nelson’s and Saltmarsh Sparrows occur in the marsh by the Capo Creek tower. In late summer, Roseate Spoonbill, Wood Stork and other wading birds are numerous around the Big and Little Savannah impoundments (be sure to check the interpretive overlook at Big Savannah Pond). During seasonal hunts, birders can drive in with automobiles, making the area significantly more accessible. Simply check in at the check station for a drive-in pass. At other times, birders need to park at the dam (last chance for restrooms on the south side) and hike or bike in, veering right on the west side of the dam and heading north into the WMA. Watch for migratory songbirds in the hammocks as well as owls and woodpeckers. From the bird blind at Diego Pond, spy on ducks, shorebirds and wading birds as they feed on crabs, fish and invertebrates in the brackish water. Bring plenty of water, food, bug repellant and lace up your hiking shoes. This site makes you work for your birds, but the rewards are well worth it. A full color recreation guide with map is available from FWC’s Office of Recreation Services – call (850) 488-8755. Please click here for hunting calendar dates, regulations and more information.
Directions: From St. Augustine, drive east on SR A1A across the Vilano Beach Causeway. Bear left (north) to stay on SR A1A and go 7.7 mi. (go through Vilano Beach). Turn left (west) on Guana River Rd. to enter the GTM reserve. Park at the dam, and hike across the dam and north into the WMA. The site may also be entered from the Roscoe Blvd. extension entrance (off CR 210/Palm Valley Rd.) at the north end of the WMA (restrooms available here). Boat access is provided at Six-Mile Landing, 6 mi. north of the main entrance, on the west side of SR A1A.
Open all year, sunrise to sunset.